A warm cargo carrier
Two shots of the interior pockets (Handout / March 29, 2012)
What it is: A lightweight, water-repellent, multipocket PrimaLoft One-insulated vest that keeps you warm while stowing your stuff. The polyester vest has a ripstop nylon shell for durability. The seven pockets include a zippered front pocket, zippered interior pockets for a cellphone and passport (on the left), and two interior slip pockets (on the right) for sunglasses and boarding passes or whatever else you may need to access quickly. The lower left passport pocket includes an attached minicarabiner to hold keys. You can keep your hands warm or protect additional stuff in the zippered microfleece-lined exterior hand pockets. A built-in stuff sack in the vest allows it to be converted to a neck pillow for traveling.
The good: As a gadget freak, I can never have too many pockets. But I sometimes need help figuring out what should go where, so I love how Ex Officio labeled the pockets with icons for sunglasses, cellphone, passport, keys and a boarding pass. The vest works great solo or with a Windbreaker-type jacket over it on colder, wetter days. It's kept me warm and held my stuff on several trips. It's easy to wash, but I recommend air-drying unless your dryer has a good low-temperature setting.
The bad: Love the vest, but when I hiked without a pack or a purse, I got tired of alternately carrying the vest by its neck loop or over my arm. I wish it came with a strap that I could slip through the neck loop to hang the vest from my belt or belt loop (even though it may look incredibly nerdy).
Cost: $120 (that's list; it's often on sale for less)
Available from: exofficio.com amazon.com and sierratradingpost.com